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Breeders back their judgement

It's a situation familiar to all breeders - the lovely strong, well put together, young foal that is born in spring, which does well as a weanling and then grows too fast for their own good and come yearling sale selection time, and you guessed it, the legs now look like they belong to some other species altogether.

Picturesque Trelawney Stud, the home of Ruud Van Slaats
Photo: www.trelawneystud.co.nz

However, sometimes Mother Nature is not as cruel as she seems, and given time, the right environment and care and attention and you may end up with a race horse and possibly one as smart as Ruud Van Slaats or maybe even Seachange!

The conformation of Seachange's legs has been well documented over the years of her stellar racing career, and now it seems our attention is being drawn to the legs of Ruud Van Slaats, the winner of the Group Two Cal Isuzu 1600 Stakes (Lady Norrie Stakes) at Te Rapa recently.

"Maybe soon we will start talking about her sheer ability as a racehorse and the attention will be away from those legs," quipped her breeder Brent Taylor.

After all she has a pretty impressive race record, having won five races and run two seconds from 10 starts and two of those wins have now been at Group Two level.
Late in November the daughter of Van Nistelrooy won the 1400 metre Group Two NRM Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Counties and, ridden with the same catch me if you can tactics at Waikato, she triumphed over 1600 metres.

Brent Taylor of Trelawney Stud, races Ruud Van Slaats with his wife Cherry, and his mother Faith along with old family friends Ewan and Sue Abernathy, and Mike Ring. Making up the syndicate is well known Waikato racing identity and Life Member of the Waikato Racing Club, Eric Davies and his wife Maureen.

Ruud Van Slaats was bred by Trelawney Stud and the B M Taylor Family Trust, and is out of the Danehill mare Quintilla, who is out of the English bred Formidable mare Quinsigimond a winner of four races in Great Britain.

"I bought Quintilla as a young mare in foal to Zabeel, it was one of those opportunities that you don't pass up a young Danehill mare in foal to Zabeel. Quintilla was from a good European stakes winning family. She herself is a half sister to Chester County, a listed winner of seven races in Australia. She was previously owned by a client of Cambridge Stud and the subsequent foal, a filly, sold for over $300,000.

"For her next mating I sent her to Van Nistelrooy (Storm Cat – Halory) - it was his first season and I knew how well the Danzig/Storm Cat cross was working in the Northern Hemisphere and physically it was a good mating. From this she produced Ruud Van Slaats, and she was a lovely big strong powerful foal. Unfortunately she grew too fast for her own good and her conformation didn't meet the criteria for the yearling sales so we kept her to race.

"Her next foal was a colt also by Van Nistelrooy and we sold him at Karaka in 2007 to Laurie Laxon, and I guess we will see him out shortly in Singapore. Unfortunately we lost the mare soon after that," he said.

Fortunately though, Trelawney Stud does have Ruud Van Slaats and with two Group Two wins to her credit she has tremendous value as a broodmare.

"We were very patient with the filly as a youngster and have taken our time with her. John Sargeant has done a wonderful job with her with the assistance of the water treadmill. Since she has been in work she hasn't really had a spell, she just gets too gross and we have to keep the weight off those legs. She isn't showing any signs of unsoundness but we have to make certain it doesn't happen.

"At the moment she is out having a small break and will freshen up with work on the water treadmill and will be aimed at the Group One Telegraph Handicap in January.

And Ruud Van Slaats, with that terrific will to win that she demonstrated at Te Rapa, will show us she is a true athlete, with lots of ability, despite her legs and strive for that ultimate Group One glory.

Footnote: If you are wondering about the name – Ruud Van Nistelrooy the famous Dutch football striker is married to Leontien Slaats.

- Michelle Saba